Tuesday, October 07, 2014

A periodic written Oath of Allegiance test for lawyers?

Good Day Readers:

With all the fat, juicy salacious, mouth-watering details emerging from the Douglas Inquiry, CyberSmokeBlog was curious about the oath Manitoba lawyers are administered so it contacted the folks down at the Law Society of Manitoba who kindly sent the following available in a bilingual format. This is what they agree to when Called to the Bar.

Oath of Allegiance

I,                                                                ,
(Full Name)

do swear (affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors. (So help me God.)

Barrister’s Oath

I,                                                                ,
(Full Name)

do swear (affirm) that I will truly and honestly conduct myself in the practice of a barrister according to my best knowledge and ability.  (So help me God.)

Solicitor’s Oath

I,                                                                ,
(Full Name)

do swear (affirm) that I will truly and honestly conduct myself in the practice of a solicitor according to my best knowledge and ability. (So help me God)

The first consideration that stood out was the part about swearing allegiance to the Queen's heirs and successors. Queen Elizabeth is fine but would you really wish to commit to Prince Charles with his bouts of irrelevancy, Princess Eugenie who likes to party a tad too much, Prince Harry who likes to party far too much or rogue Prince Andrew? The reference to God was alright because of his/her/its infinite wisdom and ability to strike fear into people's hearts.

RCMP officers have to pass a periodic physical fitness test calibrated to their age and presumably so do firefighters. Would you like to have a grossly obese first responder come to your rescue? If they don't pass after a few tries they're out. Why not the same for lawyers including judges. You can't reproduce in writing your Oath of Allegiance and you're fired. Would you want a lawyer representing you who didn't have a clue to the oath they'd taken? Great idea eh?

This would be a much more kinder, gentler way of getting rid of  under performers than the appropriately named Dick the Butcher in Shakespeare's Henry VI (Part II) suggested.
The Law Society of Manitoba

Next month CyberSmokeBlog is planning to attend a disciplinary hearing for a Winnipeg lawyer. Under the LSM's disclosure rules, as set out in the Legal Profession Act of Manitoba, the individual cannot be identified unless or until they're found guilty. To do otherwise could land you a fine and/or jail time. Thought it might be instructive to review The Society's Disciplinary Case Digest arranged alphabetically going back to 1996

Since then there have been 128 lawyers convicted of everything from Breach of Duty of Integrity to Failure to Serve to Excess Fees, to Breach of Accounting Rules to Quality of Service to Misappropriation to everything inbetween and far beyond. The penalties ranged from a reprimand (slap on the wrist) to outright disbarment. During the same period 23 lawyers were acquitted.

But the picture is even bleaker. Many of the cases examined involved multiple counts and repeat offenders. Get this. One lawyer was cited for 60 counts.

However, the Law Society of Manitoba shouldn't despair. Recent Toronto Star articles and a segment on CBC Television's Go Public have painted a picture of Ontario's Law Society of Upper Canada as somewhere between the Gong Show and a horror movie unable or unwilling to control its ungovernable members.

So next time you go to buy a lawyer remember caveat emptor.

Clare L. Pieuk


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